City Series:Volume2 Chapter 5
Chapter 5: Manmade Doll
A plain concrete workroom existed on Scotland Yard’s first basement.
The underground room was small but well equipped, so it somewhat resembled a medical examination room.
That room was Klausl’s “home”.
A waist-high table had a white sheet laid over it and Klausl lay on it after having lost her left arm.
Amon stood next to the table and he tapped his fingers in annoyance. Based on the bandages wrapped around his body, his treatment seemed to be complete.
He glared at the partition set up in the back of the room. There must have been someone behind it because sounds of movement could occasionally be heard.
“Are you still not ready? I’m already done.”
A face poked out from the side of the partition. It was an old man who had likely been human to begin with. He had a gentle face with sage-like features that made it impossible judge his age.
He opened his narrow eyes wide and glanced at Amon.
“Don’t get so worked up, young one. With a daughter of mine, an injury like this is nothing to worry about.”
“It’s just been so long since Klausl was damaged this badly that my repair tools are scattered all over the place. …Oh, here’s the wrench I need.”
The old man tossed a few tools over the partition and onto the floor. A wrench, pliers, a drill for making screw holes, and others clattered loudly to the floor.
Amon frowned at the racket.
“Hurry it up, old man!”
“My name isn’t old man. It’s Flandre Aileppoc.”
“Who the hell’s gonna use a weird name like that?”
“You’re not going to use my name? Don’t be so embarrassed, young one.”
Flandre vanished behind the partition again.
Amon intentionally Opened his thoughts so the man could hear.
…I guess I shouldn’t be surprised an idiot has an idiot for a father.
Suddenly, the door opened.
Amon quickly Closed his mind, turned around, and saw something that should not have been possible.
Klausl stood in the room’s entrance.
With a truly foolish look on his face, he quickly turned toward the Klausl sleeping behind him.
The girl with her left arm missing was still sleeping there.
Meanwhile, the Klausl who had entered the room bowed toward him and walked past him toward the partition.
“Father, the coffee is ready.”
She Overrode a tray of cups and turned back to Amon.
“I prepared some for you too. I will leave it over here, so feel free.”
Whether she heard his response or not, the moving Klausl looked at the identical girl lying on the table and sighed.
“I hope she gets better soon.”
She then jogged out of the room.
As she passed by him, Amon looked carefully at her face. But no matter how close he looked, she looked identical to the Klausl on the table. Even so…
He had a feeling something was different. There was some kind of gap between the two Klausls.
“Hey, old man.”
“I know what you’re Opening.”
“Klausl. She’s the 29th, so the third from last.”
Flandre stepped out from behind the partition while wrapping wire around a thick metal rod.
“You saw the arm of the one on the table there, right? Klausl is a Sein Frau. She’s a mass-produced doll.”
Amon had no words. He Closed all of his thoughts and looked to Klausl in front of him.
“You can’t believe it?” asked Flandre before continuing as if testing Amon. “A Sein Frau is a doll machine that simply carries out its orders and has no life of its own. They’re like a golem.”
He took a breath.
“Do you know why a Sein Frau with no life of its own was with you?”
A normal person would have said a Sein Frau had no heart and thus anything they did was part of a job.
But Amon did not give that answer. He stared silently down at Klausl’s face.
She was always smiling, but now her expression was one of faint exhaustion.
He suddenly remembered her making a similar expression before. It had been that morning when she had lent him her lap. She had made this expression while suffering from a nightmare.
At that very moment, he clenched his fists and spoke with a decisive look.
“Enough nonsense. Hurry up and start healing her.”
“You sure are impatient. You must clash with Klausl a lot.”
The old man was dead on.
Amon clicked his tongue and frowned, so Flandre said more.
“I’ll be ready once I finish wrapping this. Then I can start fixing her right away. You remove her blouse.”
Flandre turned toward Amon’s confused voice.
“Can’t you do it? I’d rather not let other people see my daughter’s body either.”
“Keh. So you’re a perverted old man who wants his daughter to himself?”
“Shut up and do it already.”
“Then why don’t you do it?”
Even as he said that, Amon moved behind Klausl and weakly lifted her. She was completely limp. He rested her head against his chest and her soft blonde hair swayed a bit.
The sweet scent of her hair faintly reached him.
She was strangely feminine at times like this.
He intentionally kept his movements businesslike as he corrected her posture and removed one shoulder strap of her apron skirt. The left strap had already come off, so the apron skirt fell down to her waist.
“Don’t get any funny ideas, young one.”
He clicked his tongue again and turned to Flandre.
The old man had his back to him.
Amon tilted his head before getting back to work. He tried to remove the crimson scarf from her blouse collar.
“Hey, old man.”
“Do you know how to remove a scarf?”
“I’ll only tell you if you ask more politely.”
“…Please tell me.”
“I don’t know either.”
“I’m gonna kill you!”
“You only asked if I knew. You really are a lot of trouble. Just tug on it randomly.”
He did as the man suggested.
“I’m pretty sure this is strangling her.”
“Then pull the other way.”
He did so and the scarf did come off even if he still doubted the validity of the man’s instructions. He draped the red cloth over his shoulder and reached for the blouse’s buttons.
Just as his hands hesitated in front of the first button, it happened again.
“Hey, young one.”
“Are you good with your fingers?”
“Of course I am. I’m not old and frail like you.”
“I am not old and frail. I’m just farsighted and my fingers tremble a bit due to my high blood pressure.”
“That’s what being old and frail means!”
He sighed, but the exchange must have helped him relax because he casually unbuttoned Klausl’s blouse and removed it.
This exposed her slender shoulders and her chest. He supported her back with a hand and her skin felt damp and warm.
Even if she was unconscious, he could not exactly stare. He quickly looked to her left shoulder instead. Looking back at the break, he noticed it was a little melted.
Her arm had likely burst from the heat more than the impact.
He imagined being hit by something similar and gulped.
“Hm? Did you say something?”
“Remove her bra too, young one.”
He said nothing in response and did so with no inappropriate thoughts. He then lay her white body down on the table.
Her body seemed like the ideal form of a young and quiet woman.
“What do you think?”
“Eh? Oh, she’s beautiful.”
“What are you talking about? I mean her left arm.”
Flandre turned toward him with a bitter smile.
“Now, let’s get started.”
The old man placed an arm on her side and looked at her body as if inspecting it.
“Don’t just say ‘hm’. How is she?”
The skinny arm of an old man reached out and the dried fingers poked lightly at Klausl’s left collarbone and below her chest.
Cracks ran along her skin.
Flandre turned to Amon.
Amon said nothing, so the old man gave a satisfied nod and drew his thumb deep along the cracks. His thumb ran from her left shoulder, to her left collarbone, between her breasts, below her left breast, to her left side, and back up to her left shoulder.
The sound it made was the irresponsibly commonplace sound of a box opening. The skin surrounding the cracks opened like a panel.
It looked like a piece of a sculpture and Flandre placed it below the table. It had been as soft as real skin before, but for some reason, it made a metallic sound.
It was a strange sight.
There was a lung-shaped hole in the left side of Klausl’s chest and a skeleton, gears, rims, and other objects made of different colors of metal were visible inside. It almost looked like a clock had been tied together with wire and stuffed inside a human body.
Also, it all moved, stretched, contracted, and pulsed with a rhythm much like the beating of a living creature’s heart.
The machine was alive.
Flandre pointed toward the left side of Klausl’s chest.
There was a red wooden gear there.
It was small enough to hide in the palm and it turned with a tempo much like a beating heart.
“I believe this gear is her heart,” said Flandre.
“Her heart?” asked Amon.
Flandre gave a deep nod.
“I can tell you about that later. More importantly, the left shoulder connector was damaged on the inside too. We’ll need to replace some parts in here.”
He then said something unbelievable.
“You fix her, young one.”
“Here, you’ll need this wrench first.”
When he saw the tool he was handed, Amon came to his senses and frantically shouted back.
“D-don’t be stupid! Why do I have to fix her!?”
“Because I’m ‘old and frail’. My fingers aren’t too steady anymore.”
Amon was speechless and Flandre smiled.
“Don’t worry. I’ll tell you what to do.”
Westminster Cathedral’s bell sounded in the distance. The bell rang nine times before stopping along with the music.
The night was filling with activity. It was a clear night, so the city’s lights were easily visible.
Countless red lights floating in the darkness looked like flowers blooming in a forest. It was clear that many lives were visiting those flowers. That was how attractive the lights and night scenery were.
A bedroom in the Savoy Hotel had an excellent view of that scenery.
However, the two in that room were not looking out the window.
The two humans were Valeath and Moyla.
Just under an hour had passed while Moyla lay on the tall bed and Valeath stared down at her in silence.
She had come to earlier and had been staring up at him with a weak look in her eyes and shallow breathing.
Her skin was so white it reflected the electric lights. It looked like it was made of plaster instead of being sickly pale. The blanket was decorated with a floral pattern, but that only made an even starker contrast with her cold complexion.
Suddenly, she looked away from Valeath and asked a question.
“This is goodbye, isn’t it?”
“You will not last until the morning.”
He spoke as if it were his duty to provide an accurate answer.
But she narrowed her eyes and turned back to him with a weak but definite smile on her lips.
“You finally responded to my voice.”
He did not nod, but she continued smiling.
With those quiet words, she closed her eyes, brought a hand to her forehead, and hid her eyes from the electric lights.
“I really tried to kill that young man…who so resembled you. I truly, truly…truly hated him. But just as I fired, that girl called out to me and, the next thing I knew, I had fired on my other self.”
“When I saw her collapse, something broke inside my body.”
She gently coughed. It was not a deep cough. It sounded like she was hiccupping or swallowing something.
After a pause, the coughing fit passed and her breathing was more erratic than before.
But she could not stop speaking.
The words inside her came to the surface and refused to be hidden.
“If I don’t keep waiting and if I don’t believe that you will return to the person you used to be… If I don’t believe that, I could never look Lady Melda in the eye. I…I…”
Just as her voice threatened to vanish, something very strange occurred.
Someone squeezed the hand she held over her eyes.
Her eyes were exposed below the electric lights and tears flowed from them. But even so, she could clearly see the man who held her hand.
The man in her blurry vision was Valeath.
His expression and general atmosphere remained unchanged, but he stood next to the bed and held her hand.
And that was enough.
She tried to say something, but she simply could not form the words.
She directly Opened the words in her heart.
…I don’t want to die.
He had to have seen those words, but he did not react.
Regardless, she brought her mind to the surface. She almost did not seem to care if he ignored her as she silently said what she had been unable to say before.
…I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die. I want to be by your side even longer.
More tears accompanied her Open Words and she suddenly felt more comfortable. It felt like she was crumbling in some way. This was a more pleasant death than Ashing. She was being erased through the process of Balance Fall.
With her eyes closed, she used her own words instead of Open Words. She spoke to Valeath using the words only she could.
“Use your Over Contract on me.”
Her following words were her first and last confession.
“Make me yours, Master Valeath.”
Two people sat on the cement staircase leading to the workroom below the Yard.
They were Amon and Flandre.
“A Sein Frau, hm?”
The older one nodded at the younger one’s comment.
“You won’t find any others that well-made even in London. At present, there are twenty-six of them in Scotland Yard.”
“Come to think of it, London was flooded with them that one time.”
“Oh, that. The one needed to prepare for staying at your place, so they all discussed it and worked together.”
“They all look the same, but they’re different inside?”
“They’re fundamentally the same, but they change based on their experiences after birth.”
Hearing that, Amon asked another question.
“What was that you said about a heart earlier?”
“Once, that girl’s older sister – I think it was the second oldest – was killed.”
Amon opened his mouth, but ended up not saying anything.
Flandre continued speaking.
“I created them as daughters, but the world at large sees Sein Fraus as tools and machines. The killer was never charged with a crime.”
“That’s not an uncommon story.”
“Yes. And my daughters… They can be replaced with a mere fifty pounds. And that’s why I’ve made so many of them. Only after that was I able to create that gear I showed you. That gear is what allows her to learn sensitivity and emotions.”
“Isn’t it memories or something in your head you need to think about things?”
“Even with memories, they only gain the ability to make decisions. To use memories for yourself, you require a type of individuality, right? And that sense is honed by using it yourself.”
“This is getting complicated.”
“No, you just aren’t very smart.”
“Shut up. Anyway, so I take it that gear is literally her heart.” Amon nodded. “So if she can experience different things and create her own heart, then what about her body?”
“Why does she keep her eyes closed?”
“Because she does not feel the need. Just as there are blind fish in the deep sea, Klausl does not require sight at the moment.”
Flandre turned around.
“Originally, none of them were as human as they are now. This is what you call the Coppélia effect. Didn’t you hear about that as a child? It’s an old story about how furniture or other items used for many long years will gain a life of their own and become an actual life form.”
“Sorry, but I don’t remember being told fairy tales as a child.”
“I see.” Flandre nodded. “This is related to the formation of their heart, but when I first stored my daughters here, most of them could not even speak.”
“They probably felt the need to use words in order to help people. After a while, every last one of them was cheerfully speaking. And from there they gained a sense of taste to cook food for the workers here and learned to smile to help calm people. Recently, they’ve even learned to sulk and get a little angry.”
“So why is she still blind?”
Flandre shook his head.
“I don’t know. She needs an impetus, but she also needs to personally think it’s necessary. And I can’t exactly give her false eyes after so long. …Does she not want to see her father’s face?”
“Well, there’s definitely no point in looking at some old man.”
Flandre glanced over at Amon, sighed, and relaxed his expression.
“But, young one, you seem to be quite the interesting fellow. I’m grateful that you actually treat her like a human. That one especially has been worried about whether she has a heart ever since her sister died.”
“Don’t bow to me, idiot. You don’t know what’s going to happen now that I know she’s a doll. In fact, now I doubt she has a heart.”
“Really? I doubt that’s what you really think.”
“Don’t act like you understand me.”
With those words, Amon stood.
“Where are you going?” asked Flandre.
Amon’s response was brief.
“There’s someone I want to see. I’ve got some complaints I need to make.”
Ralf sat in a Savoy Hotel hallway.
He leaned his back against the black wall and kept an eye out to protect the door leading to the room Valeath and Moyla were inside.
His face was expressionless and he said nothing, but he held his right shoulder in his hand as if to hide the missing arm. The shoulder was wrapped in bandages and blood seeped into them in the shape of his fingers.
He had been sitting out here ever since they had returned the night before and Valeath had entered the room carrying Moyla. He had not moved in the slightest.
Not long before, he had heard a bell ring five times.
It was morning already. It was time for people to wake up.
But he did not try to get up or stand up. Instead, he muttered under his breath.
“Truly, god will not save us.”
He ended his words with a sigh. It was a heavy sigh. It floated white in the air and dissolved into the hallway air. It became one with London’s air.
After seeing his sigh fuse with London’s air, he began to close his eyes.
But in that instant…
He heard something. It was a quiet, slow, and yet continuous sound from beyond the door next to him.
He heard footsteps.
Someone was walking this way in order to leave the room.
Light filled Ralf’s eyes.
At the same time, the door opened.
He looked up on reflex and saw who stood there.
Valeath held a hand on his sheathed sword and looked down at Ralf.
“I will go hunt more voices. We still need eighteen more races.”
Ralf stood at that. His gaze rose higher than Valeath’s in an instant and he asked a question.
“What happened to Moyla!?”
“Did she Ash!? Or did she Balance Fall? Either way, did you take care of her to the end!?”
He finished shouting, grimaced, and held his right shoulder.
Meanwhile, Valeath said nothing and took a step into the hall.
“Answer me, Valeath!”
Only after snapping at the man did Ralf notice something.
Someone who should not have been there stood where Valeath had been. She should have been dead and yet she stood there.
Ralf called her name.
Moyla had been unconscious and dying when she had been brought here, but now she stood next to Valeath.
And she stood firmly on two legs.
Ralf was confused, but he forced a smile that did not reach his eyes and he lightly raised a hand.
“Oh… That’s great, Moy-…”
She began walking without even hearing him out and her expression seemed somehow blank.
He called out to her as she passed by.
She said nothing and did not turn toward him.
She simply continued forward. She was not avoiding him. She walked slowly at an even pace as if she could not even see him there.
Her movements lacked the previous unreliableness of the sick.
He started after her to stop her and he grabbed her hand.
As soon as he did, he heard the sound of a match being struck.
He frantically let go of her and opened his own hand.
Bluish-white smoke rose from his fingers. The surface was drawn tight and looked burned.
He frantically looked to her and saw similar smoke rising from her hand where he had grabbed her.
He knew the identity of that raw-smelling smoke. As a minister, he knew all too well.
“When an unclean one contacts a holy man…”
At that point, he realized everything that had happened.
He turned his back on Moyla, faced Valeath, and shouted at the man.
“Are you moving her corpse with an Over Contract!?”
Valeath remained silent, but that was enough of an answer.
Ralf approached him. He used the shocking action to Task himself and grabbed Valeath’s collar with his one arm.
“What are you thinking!?”
Valeath maintained his silence, but Ralf did not care. He pulled the collar toward himself and glared directly into Valeath’s eyes.
“She was exhausted from being with you so long! Being freed from that life would have saved her! Even if it came in the form of death! But you…! You…!”
Ralf shoved Valeath away.
Valeath swayed one light step back, but his expression and general atmosphere remained unchanged. Ralf was the one to press his back against the wall and limply slide to a sitting position.
“How could you do this?” he muttered.
“Because I decided it was for the best,” replied Valeath.
His tone said he would reject anything more on the topic and he started to walk away. He spoke once more without turning back toward Ralf.
“We will carry out the mission tonight. You heal that arm.”
Ralf held his stump of a right shoulder as he listened to the fading footsteps.
He hung his head and curled up as if to seal himself off from the outside world.
“Why can I never save anyone?”
Amon woke shortly before noon.
He must have been quite tired the night before because he had not had a single dream, nightmare or otherwise.
His sleepy mind was lightly woken by the pain of his healing wounds and he took a breath.
“I guess I should make some food.”
He entered the unfamiliar kitchen and realized something.
“There are no matches.”
…That’s weird. She cooked in here just fine for the past few days.
That brought to mind that Sein Frau girl.
“That idiot must have them.”
She seemed to specialize in cooking, so it would not surprise him to find she had the matches. She could have slipped them into her skirt pocket.
“With that mirror she can’t use.”
He held his head in his hands, shook his head a few times, and Tasked himself out loud.
“I need to stay away from her.”
He clicked his tongue and grabbed the coat hanging on the wall. This was not the one he had worn last night. It was a new one. The previous one was torn up and hanging on a beam in the back of the room.
He looked at the coat and all the cuts covering it as he put on the new one.
His gaze would not leave that torn-up jacket.
He reached out and grabbed it. The fabric was rough in places. He guessed that was from the dried blood.
He kicked open the trashcan lid and prepared to throw the old jacket inside.
“Oh, right. This is in there.”
He stuck a hand in the old jacket’s inner pocket.
He Overrode what was inside and grabbed it.
It was Jonathan’s demon contract.
The emblem, writing, and format on the parchment went through all the proper procedures for a demon contract. There was not a single omission or mistake. With the target individual, it could be immediately activated.
“I can’t use it.”
He was a demon, but he had no wings and had not awoken to his power. Even a perfect contract like this was worth no more than a scrap of paper to him. It was a meaningless possession.
To him, it was only a written plea for revenge.
“Did that old man want me to take revenge for him?”
He suddenly remembered the message Jonathan had left along with the parchment. The words had been carved into the door.
“Live on, while fearing no evil whatsoever.”
After repeating the words to himself, he smiled bitterly.
“Not a chance. This time, I’m dying. …And that’s what everyone wants, isn’t it?”
He spoke to no one in particular, folded the parchment in half, and put it in his pocket.
He then did not hesitate to throw out the old jacket.
A knock came on the apartment’s door.
He quickly moved to the hallway. Just as his footsteps rang through the hallway, the apartment’s front door slowly opened and sunlight poured in.
…Who is it?
He narrowed his eyes at the backlight, Opened a certain thought, and saw someone there.
The person must have read his thought because she lightly raised a hand and spoke.
“No, it’s not Klau. It’s Fir.”
He Overrode his surroundings when he heard Fir’s voice. After a short time lag, his eyes adjusted to the light and saw her in her uniform.
“Oh, it’s just you.”
“I just told you it was.”
She smiled and stepped out of the backlight.
“Klau’s better, but she’s not coming.
She entered the apartment’s hallway as nimbly as a cat and stood next to him.
“You told the Inspector you would give the Yard all the information you have if he removed Klau from observer duty, remember?”
“That’s because she was in the way.”
She sounded somehow happy and Amon frowned.
“What do you mean?”
“You really don’t get it? …Or do you not want to get it?”
“Get what? Just tell me.”
“I already did. You’re a liar. There’s no more to it than that.”
She laughed and gently struck his chest.
He wordlessly swept her hand aside and crossed his arms. He looked at Fir with a somewhat suspicious look in his eyes.
She exasperatedly shrugged her shoulders and Overrode a large manila envelope in her hand.
“You asked the Inspector about one thing other than Klau, right? You asked to fight them.”
After seeing him nod, she handed him the envelope.
“He agreed. We’re gathering at eleven tonight so we can attack them while they sleep.”
She thought for a moment.
“The Inspector…seems to have trouble with you.”
“I don’t like him either.”
He sounded annoyed and she gave a bitter smile.
“So the feeling’s mutual, is it? The envelope has what information we have on them.”
“I’m already looking through it.”
He held a report. The front must have been a copy of the paperwork made when they entered the country. The top of the report gave a name.
That name was Rickland Valeath.
“The information the Yard has turned up is written on the back. His real name is Reichle Borderson. He’s a top class Hound. The total number of non-humans he’s defeated is in the triple digits.”
Amon’s comment sounded disconnected from her explanation.
He was looking at the field on the paperwork labelled “Reason for Visit”.
One would normally write “sightseeing” or “schoolwork”, but this contained something much more befitting of Valeath.
“To find a place to die, hm?”
Amon spoke the words aloud as if to hear them himself.
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